Thursday, July 16, 2015

The perfect performance

There's no such thing as a perfect performance.

We practice in hopes of delivering a great show, but I feel like the idea of trying to make a perfect set is a flawed one.

First, you will make mistakes.  Everyone makes mistakes.  From hitting a note a hair earlier to being late on a wind-up, it happens.  And if you spend too much mental energy on a mistake, it's going to affect what you play next.  If you're looking to be perfect, you'll have trouble letting it go and before you know it, you're making more mistakes as the spiral begins.

Two, other people will make mistakes.  Just like you.  Let's pretend you're so awesome that you never make mistakes.  You still have to rely on the rest of the ensemble to make a good set, right?  You might be able to hold the most steady ji ever played, but if the rest of the group is getting off, it's still a mistake that you have no control of.  Or maybe you can adapt your solo to whatever tempo the shime are playing, but if the shime on the left speeds up while the shime on the right slows down...there's a mistake that you can't do anything about at the time.

Three, you can never account for all the other stuff.  Just this past Obon weekend, we had gusts of wind blowing up the chalk dust (that guide the dancers at night) right into the faces of some of our members.  I had sunscreen stinging my eyes in the first songs of each set.  We were anticipating having to avoid the lanterns overhead, but then there was a also power cable running the other way that was hard to avoid.  In the past, we've had lights go out, drums fall over, okedo straps give way, bachi break, speakers fail, rain in the middle of the set, etc...most of these things out of our control.

Another way to look at it is that that the people who seem the most experienced, the most unfazed, the coolest performers, are the ones who've dealt with the most mistakes.  They've been through all the mishaps and errors and after a while, figured out how to cope as they happen.  Sure, these artists probably train so as to minimize mistakes happening, but they don't break stride when they do.  To get there yourself means that mistakes have to happen.

It's not that I think there are a lot of people out there who freak out about things not going perfectly.  But what I do see are people that freak out about making mistakes, both making them in the future or while playing at the time.  Mistakes suck.  But the quicker you let go of them, the less you worry about making them, the better of a player you can become.  It may not be easy, but it is simple.

1 comment:

  1. My usual recommendation... Go on stage often (including in less-than-ideal situations) to learn that nothing is the end of the world.